Mathhew Van Tryon | Staff Reporter
They aren’t showy and flashy.
They don’t make headlines like some other Butler athletic teams.
Yet, the athletes on Butler’s women’s cross country team turned in one of the best seasons in Butler athletics history this fall.
The Bulldogs finished their season two weeks ago with a third-place finish at the NCAA Division I National Championship meet.
The team finished with 200 points, three points behind runner-up University of Arizona. Fellow Big East member Providence finished first with 141 points.
The finish is the third highest for any Butler team in a national event. Only the men’s basketball team finished higher with its back-to-back runner-up appearances in 2010 and 2011.
It was a cold and blustery day in Terre Haute, Ind., for the national cross country meet, but the conditions would not get in the way of Butler’s success.
Consistency was the key to the Bulldogs’ success all season long, senior Katie Clark said. The same proved true in the national championship meet.
“We’d been having such solid runs all season, so we just had to trust in our training and trust in each other that we were fit, strong and could really do some things,” Clark said. “And (we) had to be excited rather than nervous. I thought we executed really well.”
Junior Mara Olson led the Bulldogs en route to finishing the best season of her collegiate career. Olson finished in 26th place with a time of 20:37.7, earning her All-American recognition.
Olson’s consistency was evident all season. She led the team at the Roy Griak Invitational with a fourth-place overall finish and finished eighth overall at the Big East Championships.
Roe said Olson was poised for a breakthrough, and it finally came together at the national meet.
“She really broke through this fall and ran at a national level and really punctuated her season with an outstanding race at nationals,” Roe said.
Clark and fellow senior Kirsty Legg ended their collegiate careers on a high note. Legg earned All-American honors, and Clark missed earning the honor for the second consecutive year by one second.
Clark finished with a time of 20:46.9, which put her in 41st place.
Legg and Clark are part of Roe’s first recruiting class to have completed its time at Butler. Roe said the program is better because of the seniors’ involvement.
“Its really a big inspiration for me, personally, to see my first class have such success and improve every year and finish on such a strong note, and really put the program in a position where it can continue to grow and get better,” Roe said. “We owe a huge debt to Kirsty and Katie for what they have contributed to the program.”
Clark said she saw growth in herself and the program over the course of her career.
“The character of the team has grown, and we all get along so well,” Clark said. “I’ve certainly grown as a person, and being a part of a college team has certainly facilitated that for me.
“Sometimes, I think back to what my life might look like if I had chosen not to come to America and not join the cross country team. And I am so glad that I did, because things are going so well right now, and I can’t imagine it any other way.”
Junior Tom Curr participated in the national meet for the Butler men’s squad. Curr finished 41st with a time of 30:46.4. Curr missed the All-American honor by one spot.
Sustainable success in athletics is hard to come by, but Roe said the team has built a successful foundation.
“It’s going to be a challenge to sustain that, but fortunately we have five of our top seven girls back next year, and we expect with improvement of the program that we can continue to move forward and recruit at a high level and remain at an elite Division I level, a national level,” Roe said. “That’s certainly our objective, and I think we’re well on our way to making that a reality.”